CHAPTER 156: Apprenticeship to Love, May 26, 2024

  • Today’s questions: How do you welcome the stranger into your life? Are you prepared for what they bring?
  • Today's suggested practice: to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine... (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: 6:30am: 30 minutes: asanas, mantra: chanting Akaal to aid the dead in their journey from this life



This week a King died. My wise friend, on my granddaughter's birthday, his deathday.

I'm just beginning to grieve. And, following Stephen Jenkinson, I am practicing here and now, the skill of the broken heart, that I might be better at it when it's my time.
Let me begin this meditation on death and gifts by repeating this quote from Leroy Gordon: Our work, as men, is to receive the feminine. Everything else we do is preparation to receive.

I prepare by learning how to sit in empty awareness. Stilling my body. My thoughts. My breath. Alert to everything.
In this yoga the "masculine" is simply and deeply our awareness.

The "feminine" is everything else.

Everything that moves, that changes. My breath. My thoughts and feelings. The wind in the trees. The energy moving from root to flower in this garden. The surging of the oceans and the tides of migration of the peoples. All of it for me to be aware of. To hold in my awareness.
I am limited by what my mind thinks it knows. Or: I can choos to limit myself to what my mind thinks it knows.

It is a strange world, what lies beyond what this mind thinks it knows. I cannot even become aware of it without the gifts of strangers. I cannot become aware of their gifts without stilling myself, preparing myself to receive.

And I’ve been lucky. I’ve loved & been loved by two who know this strangeness beyond what this mind thinks it knows.

The one offering me his listening and his stories and his wisdom, helping me to begin to appreciate this:

  • the man I might be,
  • the man I am,
  • the man I am not allowing myself to be. And,
  • this woman who brings me to the threshold of myself.

And this woman. This dear and tender and whimsical and wandering one. She is the other strange & beautiful one here in this life of mine.

She shows me, with her intuitive recklessness and her whimsy and her deep dark silence and her testing and her love a way to be beyond the hubris of my words & thinking (what we have determined as “being an idiot”).

She breaks this heart open and free from fear of rejection and conditions. Breaking me open to know what it is to love —and to be loved beyond my mind's imagination and expectations.

How beautiful and powerful and strange it is to love and be loved this way.

To feel only desire —not to possess or limit, but to only ache for more breaking and opening to receive and know more of her and this strange world beyond my limited thinking.

My wise friend, he was always there to second my fumbling towards what you she is drawing me to: myself, myself as nothing — as everything. No neediness. No wanting love — and her— to be anything but herself: the one who calls me ever deeper into vulnerability, into love, into myself as the man, the husbandman, I love. The one she trusts.

Seeing her. Holding her. Allowing her to be as she is.

And, being here. Aware. In this strange land beyond my imagining.

In the years that I knew my strange and wise friend he was practicing, always, to be more of nothing. And in this more of nothing, to be everything.

To resist less and allow in what came to him. All of it. With less & less of himself to stand in its way.
Until, at last, this past week, he was no more.
This practice of being more of nothing/everything was his gift to all of his relationships. From his grandchildren to his children, to his friends and siblings, to the woman he knew as his wife. To himself.

It was his never-ending work, begun perhaps as early as his earliest memories of childhood. Awareness. Of himself. Of the world.

His daily practice meant that he could see us. Feel us. Often much more clearly and deeply than we could, ourselves. That is how I experienced this man. The stranger, the wise man in my life.

Death —of my strange friend, but of others too— invites me to remember what I didn’t know I’d forgotten at birth:

  • there is only love,
  • and the sacrifice that love requires,
  • and everything I do to resist or deny this sacrifice.

This is the thread that runs through my understanding of what he taught me. The empty awareness that allows love to flourish in its strange ways.

It’s why, I think, he held her, my dear beloved, in such esteem: her tenderness to that strange world of love and sacrifice. It’s what he, gently, helped me to understand: that she is a precious gift to me, and I do well to be careful —full of care— in my handling of the woman she is.

With his dying she become even more important and precious to me.

I have less and less expectation of her. I only ask that she is full of care with herself; that, where and when appropriate, she allows me —as she has been doing in these recent years— to gently care for her.
I feel her, as I learned to feel my wise friend, as a stranger in this world. I learned to revere his beautiful strangeness, that part he did not much reveal, as his gift to me.

I pray that she feels my reverence for her beautiful strangeness. That I am grateful for her. But also how she has, in her turn, helped me to love and appreciate and see his beauty and his strangeness here in this world.

Akaal. Akaal. Akaal.

Thank you.
I love you.
I am here.


🌀…you stand on the threshold of your constant cycle of birthing and dying . . . knowing there is no death -- no end -- just shifting, cycling and recycling. (Guru Singh and Guruperkarma Kaur)

🌀We have arrived in Gemini Season. … Gemini's element is Air, which is all about movement and change. (Kundalini Yoga School)

🌀Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it. (Rabindranath Tagore)

🌀The quality of your life ultimately depends on the quality of your relationships. (Esther Perel)

🌀The Conscious Warrior practices the cultivation of wonder and awe. (John Wineland, Precept 7)

🌀You are beautiful. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)


This month's practice, to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine:
Please read through first, then ...

  • Set two alarms, for times of the day when you have a five-10 minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day.
  • When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few moments and:
    • Ask yourself: How do I welcome the stranger into my life? Am I prepared for what they bring?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, or lay yourself down, and bring your attention to your body.
      • Feel the ground beneath you. Allow the earth to hold you with gravity. Feel how dense and heavy you are. Feel also how lightly you sit or stand or lay on the earth. Feel yourself between the pull of earth's gravity and the subtle but persistent pull of the sun, the stars.
      • Begin to breathe long and deep into your belly. Slow the inhale to a count of four or six. Slow your exhale to a count of six or eight or ten. Repeat three to five cycles of breathing, going a little slower with each cycle. Continuing to notice yourself held by the earth, raised by the sun and stars and sky above. Feel the subtle tension and pressure and friction and stress that allows you to be and rest and move in this body.
  • When you’re done, take another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? Am I in alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
  • Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
  • Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.